We’ve blacked out the number of Serious Joy Scholarships remaining to be funded before the end of the school year on June 30, 2022, as previously reported here… To explain, let me share with you these remarks that I made last night at The President’s Reception, just prior to our Twelfth Annual Commencement:
My wife, Adrien, and I are the profoundly satisfied parents of two graduates of Bethlehem College & Seminary. So much so that eight years ago I left my very satisfying and rewarding job in industry to answer God’s call to come and help build Bethlehem College & Seminary, to become the principal spokesman for The Serious Joy Scholarship. Adrien herself has since become the co-coordinator of women’s discipleship in the college.
Here’s how The Serious Joy Scholarship works:
It costs Bethlehem College & Seminary about $17,000 per year to provide one student our Bible-saturated, academically rigorous, “Education in Serious Joy,” a program of higher education laser-focused on the task of equipping a new generation of men and women “to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
We keep student tuition not just low, not just unusually low, but
about $7,000 a year, so that our students can launch immediately upon graduation into adulthood, life, ministry, and vocation without a burden of student loan debt—financially unshackled and ready to answer God’s call on their lives.
We do that by employing extreme frugality in administration and facilities expenses, and by making bold, open-handed investments in hiring and retaining a world-class faculty to teach the students. Our work is done in the adorned simplicity of unused Sunday school rooms during the week.
Beyond that, we depend on God to supply the remaining $10,000 per student. We call this personal ministry on the part of the saints, of which both the faculty and students are then beneficiaries, The Serious Joy Scholarship.
I have been spending time of late with George Müller.
If you are unfamiliar with Müller, he was a 19th-century evangelist and long-serving director of the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England. His life and ministry were distinguished by, among other things, the truly extraordinary—I mean truly extraordinary—way he trusted the Lord for all temporal supplies.
According to his biographer, A. T. Pierson, “He further felt, to be entirely consistent, he should ask no help from man, even in bearing necessary costs…in the Lord’s service, nor even state his needs beforehand in such a way as indirectly appeal for aid.” (1)
Müller’s approach to the similar task now given me at Bethlehem College & Seminary was to exercise a habitual hanging upon the unseen God and nothing else. “The Living God alone was and is the Patron of these [Christian] institutions; and not even the wisest and wealthiest, the noblest and the most influential of human beings, has ever been looked to as their dependence.
He employed extreme caution lest there should be even a careless betrayal of the fact of pressing need, to the outside public. The helpers in the institutions were allowed to come into such close fellowship and to have such knowledge of the exact state of the work as aids not only in common labours, but in common prayers and self-denials. Without such acquaintance, they could not serve, pray, nor sacrifice intelligibly. “But these associates were most solemnly and repeatedly charged never to reveal to those without, not even in the most serious cases, any want whatsoever of the work.” (2)
A rumor once was spread that Müller and his wife were half-starving in the conduct of their ministries and that their bodily ailments were the result of an ascetic lifestyle. He moved quickly to “put on record that, though often brought so low as to not have one penny left and to have the last bread on the table, they had never yet sat down to a meal unprovided with some nourishing food.” (3)
And this has been the case in the whole history of Bethlehem College & Seminary. Not for one fraction of a nanosecond has this school ever been without all that it has required in material and spiritual resources to persevere in the assignment given us by our steadfastly faithful, generous, and all-possessing God.
On reflection, it’s been unwise for us to count down the number of unfunded scholarships. That’s on me, and it’s why I asked the editor of this weekly newsletter to symbolically black out that headline this week. I am asking God’s forgiveness and yours for any occasion at all on which you have sensed that I have pressed our need on you.
From this point forward, I am going to do my utmost to do this job like George.
The Serious Joy Scholarship—I have told you above how it works. Now, let us pray.
Rick Segal is Vice President of Advancement and a Lecturer of History and Political Philosophy at Bethlehem College & Seminary.